La Message Board Archives

restorative justice

Posted by Dorrie on May 26, 2008, 12:08 pm

I think every community, and all of us, have our dark sides: now things have got so bad we have to look at what we don't want to see. Me too. But it's part of every community we belong to -willy nilly - and it won't go away, not ever. So much for retiring to paradise.

I remember there have been community meetings about this person 5 - 6 years ago. Alot of information emerged there, including that Christo's mama had been one of the town's prostitutes, and as such had been rejected and shamed socially, though every night...right. Christo is an unackowledged child of this community, has experienced the pain of rejection and being helpless to change any of that. For a long time he could only communicate with his mother. I wonder what happened to him with all those men visiting, drinking, whatever.

So this community has a double standard, like all others, and the children pay in every way for the hypocrisy. Christos' disabilities were viewed by some as his mother's punishment for her prostitution. (I get all this from talking to 3-4 of my Mexican friends.)

I remember C.would sometimes shit in the houses he broke into. Sometimes on the beds. This is certainly a expression of rage - but it is also a very immature one. We need to keep in mind that this person has not been able to develop with lots of supportive interactions, as a member of a family or community. Let's not assume too much about how he thinks or feels, let alone that he is a "professional thief". He repeats certain self destructive scenarios, which involve stealing and that scare people. And gets caught. The stats on recidivism(repeating offences)in Canada are @ 37% for his age group and gender. So nothing really unusual is happening here, just the old dark side. Predictably, those young men, the repeaters, often have histories of abuse, poverty, and various disablities.

We totally agree that it isn't working, and we are witnessing a tragedy unfolding: after years of rejection, confusion, and pain Christo is behaving antisocially. Whatever the government has done hasn't helped, much. We are fortunate - him too - that he has survived, and that things aren't worse.

Personally I wouldn't wish a Mexican jail on my worst enemy, unless I wanted to make sure they became a social monster. Ditto Canadian jails.
Not the social group I would choose for a young man looking to belong.

THAT'S THE POINT! BELONGING. Once Christo is excluded he has nothing to lose: the trick is to include the people who have been injured, especially by rejection. Then they stop hurting you. If there is a social structure that makes them accountable, and monitors them as they make restitution. A framework for making amends, and for making progress.

In New Zealand, Australia, and parts of Canada Restorative Justice is used to heal the social relationships between the community, the offender and the victim. All 3 of these countries have changed their laws to include this alternate route to a just settlement, with success. The recidivisms rates in parts of Aust. went down to 7% from 38%. So it is effective, the police and the court system support it. This has been going on for 15 years down under, so there's tons of experience with this process, and it is no "bleeding heart" fantasy. It works.

I was a volunteer in BC, facilitating restorative justice meetings between victims, offenders, their families, and community representatives...but I can't explain all this: go to Restorative Justice at Wikipedia, for starters. Maybe there is a solution there for this community -Mexicans and non Mexicans.


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